The Inspiration Behind the Bakery Station-Fluff Cupcakery Oldtown Chili Cookoff Win
July 17, 2012
You know your OMG chili is spicy when a Salinas firefighter shows up and asks if you have a fire extinguisher.
His wasn’t the only pressing question at the first ever Oldtown Salinas Chili Cookoff, which worked as a prelude to the California Rodeo Salinas parade last Saturday.
At our tent—where Weekly contributor Daniel V. DeCamp made the insane Oh My Goat (OMG) Chili from God with goat cheese, roasted goat leg chili and nine types of peppers, intern Marielle Argueza made the pope costumes, fellow intern Hillary Gibson the mini corn muffins and MCW consultant Chuck Messenger the jalapeño jelly (Kathleen Seccombe and Amanda Zeligs also helped)—the questions also included: “Where is your restaurant (I have to go!)?” “Can I have another muffin?” and “You’re not kidding—this is done with help from a higher power, isn’t it?”
At neighboring tents, after the Fluff Cupcakery-Bakery Station team was declared the winner by the judges’ blind taste test, the primary query was this: “How did they win? It wasn’t even chili—just ground beef and sauce!”
Sure, after earning the longest lines of the day and running out of our 5 gallons of chili well before anyone else, the Weekly could empathize with the sour beans.
But bitterness doesn’t make for good chili or community events. Neither does inaccuracy.
The grumpy runners up were inaccurate because spiced meat in sauce is precisely what chili is—in Texas in the 1900s, as precious meat was spoiling, cowboys (or the poor) would add spices and sauce to give it preserved life and to stretch the expensive meat protein as far as they could. All the bean-loaded, onion-and-cheese-covered styles that came afterward are permutations on the original.
The winning chili also honored history in an even more meaningful way. The recipe was from Jessica James’ mother, who won a shelf full of trophies back when the event was run by the rodeo and has since passed away. (James, above right, runs the Cupcakery, 975-5598, her partner in the cookoff Ana Melissa Garcia the Bakery Station, 783-1140.)
“We did it for her mother,” Garcia said, pointing out the striped chef gear James’ mom made by hand.
“I’m gonna start crying,” James said. “I’m overjoyed. I’m even wearing her bloomers.”
Monterey Coast Brewing Company (758-2337)—who is celebrating a decade in business—finished second.